Zambia (MNN) — Life is rough for kids in Zambia. According to UNICEF, a third of them lose one or both parents before they reach 18.
Of the 6.2 million children under 18 years old in Zambia, 1.2 million are orphans below the age of 15. 800,000 are affected by HIV/AIDS and an estimated 20,000 children live and work on the streets.
Christian World Outreach (CWO) is helping young men get off the streets and find new life in Christ.
Because of their mere existence as street kids, “most people look down on them and don’t trust them,” explains CWO’s Greg Yoder.
“We call them ‘the nephews’, kind of an endearing term but one of those that came out of just how the missionaries there have cared for these guys.”
Addictions add to the social stigma surrounding street kids. Yoder says most of the young boys they work with have previously made money as “bus loaders.” The boys help get people onto public buses, and drives will toss them a few coins in payment.
“The problem with that is a lot of them, to kind of drown out their sorrows, you know, get into alcohol or drugs, things like that,” says Yoder.
Through an evangelistic outreach, CWO is sharing the Gospel and breaking the chains of oppression.
“A lot of them have become Christians,” says Yoder. “They’ve come and asked, ‘Hey, you share Jesus with us, how can we share that with someone else?’
“Some of the young men who started in our program years ago, they’re the older ‘nephews’ and they’re actually ministering to young boys.”
These “older nephews”, as Yoder calls them, pass along the help they’ve received from CWO missionaries.
“They’re able to share their experiences, share how Christ has changed their lives and [show them] that they can make a change in their life (too),” Yoder explains. “And, [explain that the younger boys] should improve their habits and everything else so that they can be an asset to society.”
Every week, CWO meets with the boys for a Bible study.
“Most of them don’t know anything about the Bible so they try to teach them that, and [how] God loves them and cares for them,” says Yoder.
The missionaries also use games to teach the boys crucial life skills.
“Living on the street, they’re very competitive,” explains Yoder. “Learning how to be gracious winners and gracious learners can be a big lesson for them.”
As a result of CWO’s efforts, the young men they help are thriving.
“Some of them have been able to get jobs and go to school,” says Yoder. Hopefully someday [they’ll] go far enough that they’ll be able to use that to get better jobs.”
Click here to come alongside CWO financially.
“Donating towards the ministry in Zambia allows us to send more of the boys to school, to help pay for their education,” Yoder explains.
Most importantly, pray for the boys CWO helps.
“People with addictions can slip back into that very easily, so pray for [the boys] as they really try to change their lives,” Yoder asks.